Gainesville: Team Panella eliminations update

Team Panella: Notes and Quotes-Eliminations Driver: BOB PANELLA, JR.-CHEVY S-10 Driver: JEFF GRACIA-GMC SONOMA 32nd ANNUAL MAC TOOLS GATORNATIONALS MARCH 15-18, 2000 - - RAIN DATE: APRIL 21, 2000 GAINESVILLE RACEWAY - - GAINESVILLE, ...

Team Panella: Notes and Quotes-Eliminations
Driver: BOB PANELLA, JR.-CHEVY S-10
Driver: JEFF GRACIA-GMC SONOMA

32nd ANNUAL MAC TOOLS GATORNATIONALS
MARCH 15-18, 2000 - - RAIN DATE: APRIL 21, 2000
GAINESVILLE RACEWAY - - GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA <pre> A semi-final for Panella - Remains in third in Winston points

Qualified #3 @ 7.442 seconds and 181.50 mph

Round 1: Panella: 7.493 seconds at 180.07 mph def. Vinny Barone: 7.554 seconds at 178.66 mph Round 2: Panella: 7.443 seconds at 181.45 mph def. George Supinski: 7.559 seconds at 178.52 mph Round 3: Panella: 7.476 seconds at 181.18 mph lost to Greg Stanfield: 7.460 seconds at 181.30 mph </pre> Gainesville, Fla. - - Bob Panella, Jr., from Stockton, Calif., returned to Gainesville, Fla., and ran the second quickest time in the first round of eliminations of the rain-delayed Mac Tools Gatornationals. The twenty-nine-year-old Panella, in a Chevy S-10 truck, turned back Vinny Barone, from Huntington Station, N.Y., and moved to the second round against George Supinski.

In the quarter-finals, Panella, the two-time Winston champion (1999 & 2000) took the measure of George Supinski, from Leonardo, N.J. and found himself matched opposite Greg Stanfield in the semi-finals. Panella bested Stanfield, from Bossier City, La., in the finals of the last national event at The Strip in Las Vegas.

This time it was Stanfield who took the win light, but it was close. Panella recorded numbers of 7.476 seconds at 181.18 mph. While Stanfield lit up the score board with a 7.460 second elapsed time at a speed of 181.30 mph, winning by .0476 of a second.

"We don't know what happen. We think it was either a fuel or electrical problem. It missed (sputtered) in the first four gears then cleared up in high. By then Greg (Stanfield) was ahead and there wasn't anything I could do about it. We'll dissect it the best we can and replace all the critical components and see if we can go get them in two weeks," said Panella immediately following the round.

I'm looking forward to getting to Atlanta, a track I like a lot. It's a track I've had a little bit better success. We're going to work hard between now and the Atlanta Event and try our best to get a win instead of a runner up like last year," concluded Panella, as he thought about the next event For trucks.

<pre>

Gracia gets loose in second round but holds onto fourth in the point chase

Qualified #4 @ 7.456 seconds and 179.92 mph

Round 1: Gracia: 7.481 seconds at 180.31 mph def. Jeff Naiser: 7.510 seconds at 178.78 mph Round 2: Gracia: 9.695 seconds at 96.73 mph def. Todd Patterson: 7.516 seconds at 179.16 mph </pre> Gainesville, Fla. - - For the second consecutive race, Jeff Gracia, from Ontario, Calif., was squared off against Jeff Naiser, from Houston, in the opening stanza. And for the second consecutive race, Gracia's GMC Sonoma bested Naiser's Chevy S-10. This moved Gracia to the second round against the newly revamped Dodge Dakota of Todd Patterson at the rain-delayed Mac Tools Gatornationals.

In the quarter-finals, Gracia, who was in the right lane, got loose and crossed the center line resulting in immediate disqualification. The foul was a moot point as Todd Patterson raced away to take the win light. The loss marked the first time in four events this season that Gracia didn’t advance to the semi-finals.

"Lane choice wasn't a factor today. We felt we could win from either lane. We don't know why we got loose, perhaps we lined up a little crooked. I felt it start toward the center line, then the tires started to shake. I thought I could ride through it, but when I pulled third gear the tires were still shaking. I got out of it; but not before I crossed the center line. We had a truck good enough to win, but unfortunately it wasn't our day," said Gracia, who remained in fourth in the Winston point standings with points.

The next event for Team Panella racia is the Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals being held the weekend of May 3-6 at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga., northeast of Atlanta.

-TP-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Panella , Todd Patterson , Jeff Gracia , Greg Stanfield